Retired doctor co-ordinating environmentalist protest expected to cause traffic chaos in Sheffield defends controversial plans
The retired doctor co-ordinating a protest which is expected to cause traffic chaos in Sheffield next week has defended the controversial plans.
Dr Bing Jones, aged 67, from Nether Green, the coordinator of the Sheffield branch of Extinction Rebellion, says he is ‘sad and sorry’ about plans to stop traffic on, on Derek Dooley Way on Monday, September 9, but that is has to be done.
The branch is describing the action on Monday as a peaceful protest, and say it will be a ‘swarming action’ on Derek Dooley Way. Groups will stand in the road in shifts of between five and seven minutes during rush hour traffic.
Dr Jones said: “We’re sad and sorry that we’re doing this but we have to.
“The method is justified as we get media attention.”
The action is one of a number of measures he is taking. As a former doctor he is also trying to enlist the help of other medical professionals by writing an open letter in the hopes of getting 1,000 doctor signatures on board to his cause.
Dr Jones said: “Doctors are obliged to do the best for their patients - whether that’s today or five years down the line.”
He believes that the climate emergency will have a huge impact on doctors in this country.
“Heat waves will kill children and the elderly, diseases will spread easier.
“This is happening already in places like India and the Bahamas.”
Dr Jones has always been passionate about the environment.
He said: “40 years ago I was cycling wearing a shirt that said ‘there’s too many cars on the road.’
“I’ve always thought that modern life is unsustainable, selfish and silly.
“People need to stop flying, eat no or less meat, stop buying things and vote for politicians who will make real change.
“We need to be living a very simple life - but wouldn’t that be better?
“A more sustainable, natural and kinder lifestyle is a no brainer to me.”
The letter is now signed by over 1,500 doctors in the UK and outlines their concerns over links between the climate crisis and health.
It states: “We are united by our distress at the world’s minimal response to looming environmental disaster, ignoring the early signs of a malignant process.
“We sympathise with current widespread protest, notably by children who will be the most affected.
“Peaceful protest can change society.
“We urge government and media to respond immediately and proportionately.”
Dr Jones was arrested during the London Rebellion protests in April this year. He said he was protesting peacefully.
He said: “This letter demonstrates widespread frustration at our inadequate response to the climate and ecological threats we face.
“It warns us that we are ignoring at our peril, the early signs of a dangerous disease.
“Doctors are generally seen as caring, scientifically literate professionals but are also usually considered cautious and conventional.
“Their frustration is expressed here through an explicit endorsement of the use of non-violent direct action.”
ER will also be holding a protest called The Blood of Our Children on September 28 in the city.
This will be a theatrical action where ER members will dress in red robes and spill fake blood onto the streets to represent the harm climate change will have on children.
If you want to learn more about ER they hold weekly meetings at Union Street cafe on Monday evenings.